ACA Open Enrollment Is Here

To schedule a free in-person appointment, individuals can call the statewide navigator hotline, 1-855-733-3711 or go to ncnavigator.net.

The Open Enrollment Period for 2020 health insurance coverage started Nov. 1 and runs through Dec. 15, giving consumers 45 days to enroll in health coverage from the Federal Health Insurance Marketplace.

Despite confusion around the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the ACA and its protections remain the law: financial assistance is still available to eligible consumers; individuals cannot be denied coverage or charged more due to a pre-existing condition, such as cancer or diabetes, among others.

Last year, more than 90 percent of North Carolinians who enrolled in Marketplace coverage were eligible for financial assistance, which can lower monthly premiums and out-of-pocket expenses. .

Mecklenburg County also had the highest number of enrollments in the state in with 60,229 residents signing up for 2019 coverage. Of those who enrolled, 53,878 residents received financial assistance; 16,655 enrolled for Marketplace coverage for the first time.

As a member of the N.C. Navigator Consortium, Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy’s team of health insurance navigators are available to help consumers understand their health insurance options through both the Health Insurance Marketplace and Medicaid.

Navigators are federally certified and required to provide objective, non-biased information about all healthcare options available. Navigators from the Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy will be assisting consumers at different community locations in Cabarrus, Mecklenburg and Union counties during open enrollment.

Open Enrollment Navigator Sites

  • Beatties Ford Road Library
  • Cabarrus Health Alliance
  • Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy
  • CMC Myers Park
  • CMC Northpark
  • CPCC-Main Campus
  • El Puente Hispano
  • Goodwill Industries

  • Independence Library
  • Latin American Coalition
  • Mecklenburg County Health Department
  • Monroe Library
  • New Beginnings Church
  • Union County Human Services
  • West Boulevard Library


Watch Julieanne Taylor explain to WBTV’s “On Your Side Tonight” what consumers need to know for Open Enrollment.

The Advocacy Center will also host enrollment events every Wednesday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. and every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy satellite office located at 1524 Elizabeth Avenue, in Charlotte. On Saturdays, walk-ins are welcome until 3 p.m.

A final enrollment event will be held Sunday, Dec. 15, noon to 8 p.m. at 1524 Elizabeth Avenue in Charlotte.

To schedule a free in-person appointment, individuals can call the statewide navigator hotline, 1-855-733-3711 or go to ncnavigator.net.

All consumers – new and renewing – are encouraged to return to the Marketplace during Open Enrollment to explore their options and enroll in health coverage. For individuals renewing coverage, it is important to review application information and 2020 plan options because plans and prices change every year.

What are the benefits?

By signing up for health insurance, consumers may receive free preventive care, which includes

  • well-women visits
  • physical exams
  • regular screenings
  • wellness tests

The ACA has made insurance more accessible and affordable to consumers, and consumers can find quality, affordable plans through the Health Insurance Marketplace. If you can afford health insurance but choose not to buy it, you may face high out of pocket costs if you have a medical emergency or need to visit a doctor.

To qualify for financial assistance through the Health Insurance Marketplace, individuals must meet the following requirements:

  1. Have household income between 100% and 400% of the Federal Poverty Level. Certain immigrants are eligible even if income is below the poverty line.
  2. Be a U.S. citizen or lawfully present immigrant. This includes green card holders, refugees, asylees, U visa holders, work and student visa holders, TPS, among others.
  3. Not eligible for affordable employer-based coverage, Medicaid, or Medicare.

Special Enrollment Periods

After December 15, some individuals may be eligible to enroll for coverage through a Special Enrollment Period. Special Enrollment Periods are available for individuals who recently experienced a major life change, such as a permanent move, the birth of a child, or a newly obtained immigration status. If you qualify, then you may enroll in Marketplace coverage within 60 days of the change. It is important to note that you can also enroll for coverage under Medicaid and CHIP all year long.

If you have questions about your health coverage options, navigators are available the entire year to assist consumers understand their options, enroll in Marketplace or Medicaid coverage, report changes to the Marketplace, understand their medical bill, and assist with Marketplace appeals.

To contact a Navigator to schedule a free, in-person appointment, consumers can call to 1-855-733-3711 or go online to ncnavigator.net.

Learn more about Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy’s Health Insurance Navigator Project

Pro Bono Spotlight: Emma Merritt

Emma Merritt

Emma Merritt is an associate at Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP and a dedicated pro bono volunteer with Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy through the Access to Justice Pro Bono Partners Program.

Having done pro bono work since she became an attorney, Merritt brought her commitment to service to the Charlotte community. She took her first pro bono case in January of 2017.

“It is crucial for those of us with the ability to help to do so,” Merritt says. “I am grateful that my law firm strongly values pro bono work as well.”

Merritt routinely handles appeals cases for denials of Medicaid for the Disabled (MAD) and Social Security Disability benefits (SSD). She recalls one case where she assisted a young woman with a debilitating mental illness. Merritt successfully appealed the denial of her Social Security Disability benefits, enabling her to continue to pay for her medical and living expenses.

Not only does Merritt value her pro bono work as a continuous learning opportunity, tackling all kinds of difficult cases, she enjoys getting to know her individual pro bono clients” and helping them obtain favorable outcomes.

“It is incredibly rewarding to know that I have made a real difference in a person’s life by helping him or her through a difficult situation,” Merritt says.

Merritt’s commitment to pro bono service, especially with civil legal issues involving healthcare access, has compelled her to encourage others to volunteer with Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy through the Charlotte Pro Bono Triage Partnership.

Charlotte Triage is a partnership of corporate and private practice lawyers volunteering to support the area’s two legal service organizations, Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy and Legal Aid of North Carolina, in their legal work to serve more people in need of legal assistance.

Healthcare Champions for the Charlotte Pro Bono Triage Partnership

Merrit is beginning her second year serving as a Healthcare Champion through Charlotte Triage, where she recruits, organizes, and trains volunteers to assist Charlotte residents in need of help understanding affordable healthcare options with the Advocacy Center’s Health Insurance Navigator Project.

As part of this work, Merritt has completed training to be a Certified Health Insurance Navigator, and she will serve as an Open Enrollment Volunteer Nov. 1 through Dec. 15, with dozens of other volunteers in the community to ensure those who can be insured under the Affordable Care Act, have access to assistance that helps them make informed decisions about health coverage.

“Emma is enthusiastic about her role and always willing to provide her time and resources,” says Julieanne Taylor, attorney and health insurance navigator coordinator at Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy. “Last year, Emma was a superstar on the last day of Open Enrollment and stayed with us until the very end. The Navigator Project is so lucky to have Emma on our team!”

Thank-you Emma Merritt for your commitment to pro bono work on behalf of Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy!